by Cris Benson
Every NFL draft guru has said the 2013 NFL Draft will not produce the offensive talent of the 2012 NFL Draft. I still believe their is room for NFL draft prospect to make a fantasy football impact come this fall.
Will someone take a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft? Of course they will. Teams such as the Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, and even maybe the New York Jets just may take a QB with their first overall pick. However the draft is full of maybes at the QB position and some are very overrated.
So should you take a gamble on a rookie QB come your fantasy football draft day? Nope.
Geno Smith has small hands and his playing in a spread offense covered many of his flaws. Matt Barkley played in an NFL style offense calling his own plays but I question his sprained throwing shoulder. Ryan Nassib may be drafted by Buffalo but probably won’t start until mid season and even if he did start I wouldn’t start him in fantasy football.
My point is this 2013 QB class is following in the footsteps of a possible Hall of Fame 2012 QB draft class and that is simply an unfair comparison. This draft class has no immediate impact quarterback that will be capable to do what RG3, Luck, and even Ryan Tannehill had done in 2012.
Last season I told you to take runningback Trent Richardson who did not disappoint in 2012 for fantasy GM’s. I was enthusiastic about the muscle hamster Doug Martin telling you all to draft him as early as the second round and again he didn’t disappoint. Is there a runningback in this draft that can put up these kind of number is 2013? Yes. However the player I think can be the most explosive is a shocker.
In this NFL the runningback has to be able to catch the ball in flat and create space and one player stands out overall and that is Clemson Tiger Andre Ellington. Now with that said is Andre Ellington going to be a mid draft pick? Yes. However if Ellington was to land on the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, or even the New York Jets his value could be fairly elevated come fantasy draft day.
Is Ellington an injury risk? Yes but most of the injury hype is overblown and future injury could be prevented with a great NFL training staff.
Wisconsin Badger Montee Ball would be a great fit on the Pittsburgh Steelers who need an every down back. Ball has patience and lets the play develop never running ahead of his lead block but instead waiting for the play to develop. Ball could be a perfect number two running back in fantasy football.
If Eddie Lacy was to land on a team on a team with an elite NFL offensive line such as… oh wait Lacy did play on a team with an elite NFL offensive line called Alabama. Lacy is very overrated and is more Mark Ingram then bell cow back Trent Richardson. However Lacy could be a serious scoring threat on team like the Rams, Giants, and especially the 49ers.
No surprise that the best NFL draft prospect at receiver is not a wide-receiver but a tightend. However Notre Dame tightend Tyler Eifert has all the talents to be a red zone threat in the NFL. While his hands are tiny for a TE at only 9 1/8 he still poses a huge catching radius and can go over the middle to attack the ball. If Eifert should land in new Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman’s West Coast offense he could have instant top end fantasy draft value come this fall.
Here is the problem with the wide receivers in this year’s draft and it isn’t the receivers as it is the neediest team at receiver and that is the Minnesota Vikings.
Last season the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted number one receiver prospect Justin Blackmon who is still a great receiver on a very dysfunctional offense. Not that I am comparing the Vikings offense to the Jaguars but they have one thing in common a third year quarterback that is simply unproven. This can also be proven again with the second overall receiving prospect in 2012 Michael Floyd and the awful Arizona quarterback situation.
A bad quarterback can crush a top tier draft prospect. Crush them!
Now will any of these receivers benefit from being picked by a low end team other than St Louis? I don’t think so.
Keep your eyes on rookie receivers who start on teams with a solid NFL quarterback, coach, and system in place to take advantage of that receivers skill set. Rather than hoping a receiver changes the quarterback, coach, and the system.
With all things in this year’s draft we have to simply wait and see what will happen. I can tell you this without any hesitation that nobody knows who, where, when any draft prospect will go. Nobody!
So when the draft is complete I will have my list of ten NFL rookies to snag in this year’s fantasy football draft and I can begin working on my annual fantasy football informer cheat sheet for 2013.
If you have any thoughts, ideas, or simply want to slam my picks feel free to add your comments I will be sure to respond. Enjoy the 2013 NFL draft!
The Fantasy Football Informers Top 240 Fantasy Football Performers from 2012 Season
Last season the St Louis Rams depended on running-back Steven Jackson and he didn’t disappoint. Jackson produced his eighth consecutive season with over 1000 yards on the ground.
Jackson now joins the Atlanta Falcons who were a game away from reaching the Super Bowl last season. Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter must be salivating over the addition of Jackson to his high scoring offense.
Koetter was the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars and often gave opposing defenses a heavy dose of Maurice Jones Drew. Jones Drew had multiple years of heavy production under Koetter and led to his name being called in the first round of many fantasy football drafts.
Jackson posses a rare combination of speed, size, power, and finesse that is all in one package. Jackson is one of the NFL’s best running-backs and seldom unrecognized for his ability to be both elusive as Barry Sanders and smash mouth as Walter Peyton.
Jackson will turn thirty this season but don’t let his age cloud your thinking. Jackson is still in his prime but the clock is ticking.
Jackson’s one disadvantage is his endzone carries or lack of but that isn’t his fault alone as the Rams often elected to pass first instead of run. Most fantasy football fanatics don’t find that very comforting as it seldom seen as the players fault instead of a lack of creativity by the offensive coordinator. Jackson is simply one of those players that was never used in the way he was intended.
Jackson was drafted during the end of the Mike Martz era in St Louis but had his best fantasy season was under head coach Scott Linehan. After a serious of revolving door coaches it’s amazing that Jackson has been as productive as he is since the playbook is constantly being overhauled.
Jackson should be as productive as ever in Atlanta and look him to receive the endzone carries he was missing in St Louis.
CBSsports has Jackson ranked as a high two possible third round selection and that may be his best overall value. Jackson may slip past the first three rounds making him a no brainer in the fourth round but waiting too long could mean missing out on a possible comeback player of the year.
Before NFL Free Agency began Tuesday it was more than likely you knew the value of players such as Anquan Boldin, Wes Welker, and Danny Amendola. However all these players now in new cities, with new offensive minds, and new quarterbacks, and nothing is the same. How can we come to a simple solution to solve the equation of what is their fantasy football value? The answer is if you if you had that solution you would dominate every fantasy football league.
So let’s apply what we know about these players and the new offense they will be in, the talent that will surround them, and how they will fit in their new scheme. While there’s no absolute correct answer to this question we can gather what we know and come to reasonable answer.
Anquan Boldin was a scoring juggernaut in Arizona but never reached over 1000yrds in Baltimore? What happened?
The truth is Boldin was never as good a receiver as Larry Fitzgerald who would often draw double coverage due to his speed and huge catching radius. That is why Arizona parted with Boldin who signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2010 and also why the Ravens parted with Boldin in 2013. Boldin doesn’t have one word, consistency. Boldin goes from eight catches one week to two catches the next the results make fantasy football fanatics insane because you don’t know when to start him.
While Boldin’s post season performance was impressive but consider this question; whose better last season statistically Anquan Boldin or Cecil Shorts of the Jaguars? That’s right Shorts was statistically better but that doesn’t make Shorts the better overall talent. Boldin is a very talented receiver still who has the skill set to dominate most corner-backs in the NFL but I don’t expect him to be a better fantasy player.
Boldin is ranked as a low end third receiver according to CBSsports which I will not debate. As for draft day anything more than a seventh round pick is a reach. Boldin’s best value in my opinion is 8th round in twelve team leagues.
Wes Welker will not have a hard time adjusting to a new system in Denver no matter what the fantasy football experts think. Peyton is smart enough to know how to use Welker and that will be no different than how Tom Brady used him in New England.
Welker is the ultimate slot receiver able to catch balls on underneath patterns in the flats or bust the safeties with a skinny post for long yardage. The Manning Moore offensive system is not very different than the New England’s Erhardt Perkins system. While the verbiage is different the formations are similar and the routes run by receivers are identical.
My expectations are that Welker will become the second option rather than the third in Manning’s offense. While everyone seems to believe Manning had a great season last year the one person who may not believe that is Peyton Manning. Denver struggled to convert third downs last season (96/213) but that is where Welker comes in. Welker will now be the go to receiver in Manning’s offense.
CBSsports has Welker projected to be a high end two receiver and I think that is a fair grade for a veteran receiver that still has plenty of gas in the tank. Consider taking Welker as early as the fourth round if you are looking to build around the receiver position.
Ever since Danny Amendola’s college career he has been asked to fill the shoes left by another undrafted receiver named Wes Welker. Both Welker and Amendola are Texas Tech alumnus; Welker 2000-2003 and Amendola 2004-2007 however both are not the same guy and never have been.
Amendola has often been compared to Welker for some very obvious reasons including speed, stature, and that they both play the slot. Besides these obvious observations this is often an unfair comparison.
Amendola is not able to get into space as well as Welker can and remember Welker was primarily lined up in the halfback at Texas Tech. Amendola doesn’t have the ability to break off defenders and is often brought down on the first hit.
Amendola has an injury history that makes him a serious draft risk dislocating his elbow in the 2011 season then dislocating his clavicle in 2012.
CBSsports was generous ranking Amendola a 7th or 8th round low third option receiver but I see Amendola’s value no greater than a fourth receiver maybe the tenth round in twelve team leagues.
Just because you play with the Patriots doesn’t mean you’re going to instantly be a huge fantasy producer. Amendola is simply not Wes Welker and the bigger question is how will the loss of Wes Welker affect Tom Brady’s fantasy production?
Mike Wallace is a rich man this morning after agreeing to a five year deal $65 million dollars and $30 million guaranteed with the Miami Dolphins. However does that mean you should be as eager as the Dolphins to spend a high draft pick and big bucks in auction drafts come fantasy football draft day?
The Answer is YES!
Wallace is in his prime and has a proven history of being a big play receiver that can stretch the field. In the Miami Dolphins west coast offense Wallace is a perfect fit and the combination of Hartline and Bess will only improve his big play potential.
Now there are plenty of fantasy experts who will say that Wallace is going to become a bust just because they are looking at Wallace’s previous seasons stats.
However the Pittsburgh Steelers were never committed to signing Wallace to a long term deal and Pittsburgh OC Todd Hailey was an awful choice to replace Bruce Arians. Hailey had big plans to reignite the running game in Pittsburg instead of concentrating his efforts to continue the passing attack that was dominant in the AFC North division.
Hailey never realized (as he often dose) what he had in Wallace; a player that is able to draw double coverage and still go up and win fights for balls. Wallace has a huge catch radius, a quick step off the line of scrimmage which avoids the jam, and his vertical leap rivals any high jumper.
Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin is in his second year and did an amazing job last season in Miami. Philbin had limited options at receiver while grooming young rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins ranked 23rd is passing according to FootballOutsiders.com and considering this was an entirely new staff, system, and personnel that is not bad.
While CBSsports.com fantasy football has Wallace ranked as a “low end number two” receiver I strongly disagree with this evaluation. Wallace is a high end number one receiver now and can be picked up in the fourth round without any regret. Ranking Wallace a low end number two receiver is insulting and proves the fantasy experts are out of touch with football reality and instead knee deep in numbers.
The NFC West was already a difficult division to play in now the Seattle Seahawks have made it even more difficult acquiring wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings.
Now you may ask how the pistol is going to increase the fantasy value of Percy Harvin or even better will it increase his value? Well first let’s look at Harvin’s career with the Minnesota Vikings and how the new offense will compliment his talents.
Percy Harvin is without a doubt one of the most injury prone players in the NFL. He simply can’t stay healthy. So the buyer beware tag is will not going to be dropped just because Harvin has been traded. However don’t let Harvin’s injury history keep you from taking an explosive endzone threat.
Harvin is reunited with his former offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell who is now taking the play calling duties in Seattle. In the 2009 NFL season Harvin averaged 13.2 yards a reception and in 2010 Harvin averaged 12.2 yards a reception with Bevel at offensive coordinator running a west coast offense. Quarterback Brett Favre would use Harvin as a third option but knew the receiver could get into space after the catch. That is what makes Harvin such a scoring threat. Harvin is as versatile as a receiver can be. Harvin can lineup as a slot receiver, a halfback, and he can be a return man on special teams. Harvin has many intangibles that other receivers don’t posses. However that is also a curse as Harvin began to see more play calls as a halfback and kick return specialist putting him at greater risk for injury. Now while the Seahawks have no intention to rest Harvin they will be able to increase his production in all those roles.
The Seahawks lacked a go to receiver for QB Russell Wilson last season and Harvin could significantly fill that role. Harvin can also be used in the wishbone formation as an option back along with halfback Marshawn Lynch. Harvin could be used in multiple formations and offensive schemes; not just as your typical slot receiver. Often we think of the pistol offense as a running scheme when it is actually an option scheme. The read option is all about choices made at the line of scrimmage, reading the defense for coverage gaps, making an adjustment on the play call, and then exploiting the defensive gap. When it comes to the pistol Harvin is a perfect fit as he is the ultimate utility player.
Harvin’s value fantasy was a mid fourth rounder overall last season according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Now while that sounds like a reach in all honesty he was alone in the passing game in Minnesota but was often injured. I project his value to hold to not change significantly from last season even though most will look at his stats and typically downgrade him.
Well if you don’t know I am not the biggest fan of Michael Fabiano. I just think if you are the NFL Networks face of fantasy football you should be more conscious of your opinions and not just going with the flow of statistics.
Anyone can tell you who to start or sit but not many can identify the offensive scheme being executed by a fantasy starters offense. The defensive strengths of an opposing defense that your RB is playing. Much less be able to identify the pistol offense as opposed to the wishbone.
It takes more to win your fantasy football season then watching Fabiano give you his picks on NFL Fantasy Live.
You have to read, read, and read! Not just about fantasy football but about football as a game.
Then you have to watch, watch, and watch some more film.
Go back to NFL.com watch the scoring highlights and study. Ask yourself Q’s about the formations (offense and defense), what was the down, was anyone significant unhealthy, did the fantasy star score during a lead or from a trail, was the game cross conference, in conference, was this a second divisional meeting, etc, etc?
Understand why your RB was not able to score in week fourteen yet he scored three TD’s consecutively just the week before.
Do all these things and you will increase your chance to win! Or don’t.
Then don’t cry when Fabiano tells you to start Darren McFadden in week 16 of your fantasy football championship and you listen to him.
Really Fabiano? McFadden is the start of the week after having a good week 15 against a struggling KC defense.
by Cris Benson
While I don’t often care to speculate on the fantasy value of most fantasy football players in March I can’t help but wonder? Is Andy Reid’s West Coast Offense going to enhance the fantasy draft stock of the Chiefs? Do the Chiefs have the potential to be an explosive offense? Can Alex Smith put the Chiefs receivers back on the fantasy football radar? Will Jamaal Charles remain a bell cow running back in Reid’s west coast system? Will Dwayne Bowe put up numbers that rival top tier wide receivers? Will fantasy stars emerge such as Dexter McCluster?
The Kansas City Chiefs finished last in points scored after a somber 2012 NFL season which sparked some major changes by the Hunt family. The Chiefs have a new front office with General Manager John Dorsey and a new Head Coach Andy Reid.
While Reid is clearly going to have the biggest impact on the Chiefs it was Dorsey who used the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert and also signed fantasy standout wide-receiver Dwayne Bowe. Figure in quarterback Alex Smith who was traded to Kansas City from the San Francisco 49ers and with those two moves the Chiefs are now in a position to have an impact draft pick as well.
Reid has always commanded offenses that are patterned after several different west coast molds and they are always high scoring. High scoring offenses produce high scoring fantasy football players but the problem is predicting which offenses will be doing the scoring.
Last season I kept insisting that my readers follow what was happening in Atlanta as the Falcons appeared to be on the cusp of a potential high scoring offense. After acquiring offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter the Falcons led one of the most explosive air assaults in the NFL making quarterback Matt Ryan a must have on fantasy draft day.
Could Reid’s coaching and Alex Smith’s limited mistakes start something big brewing the NFL? Maybe but nothing comes close to certain until NFL free agency is complete and the draft is in the rear view mirror. By the time spring OTA’s are done I should have a better idea.
After reading NFL analyst and historian Chris Brown’s recent column on the trade for Alex Smith I find myself not eager to declare the Chiefs receivers or Smith fantasy draft locks. On the other hand Jamaal Charles should be a lock yet will Reid abandon the run for a heavy passing attack? Brown conveys some serious questions that will require fantasy enthusiast to add the Chiefs to your Google news wire.
One thing is for certain, Reid knows how to identify talent and also develop talent. Look no further than Michael Vick who under Reid showed an overall improvement statistically from his days in Atlanta.
Vick was prone to poor decision making on and off the field in Atlanta and was also known for his poor work ethic as well. However Reid was able to develop his playmaking talent as well as teach Vick to rely on his arm rather than his legs. Vick became more of a pocket passer under Reid rather than an escape artist that couldn’t read a cover two from an all out blitz package.
If you’re worried about Jamaal Charles, don’t! “I think you can probably put him in any offense and he’s going to do a heck of a job.” Reid said to KCchiefs.com; “He’s a very good running back and there are probably a lot of coaches in this league that would like to have him. He’s a heck of a player. I’m not going to change that. I’m going to give him an opportunity to do his thing and do what he does best.”
It’s very reassuring to know that Charles will most likely be the anchor of Reid’s offense similar to the role Reid had for runningback LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia in the NFL 2011 season.
The complex question is will Smith be spreading the ball around like he did in San Francisco and will he be able to stretch the field to WR Dwayne Bowe. Bowe has the talent unlike Crabtree in SF to separate from coverage (look no further then the last play of the Super Bowl) and tends to draw lots of double coverage due to his sheer size and catching radius. Crabtree is a speedy receiver who out runs his coverage but seldom has the ability to go up and challenge for a ball.
One thing I am almost certain about is Bowe’s value will most likely be inflated by your August draft day and fellow receiver Dexter McCluster will be undervalued. McCluster is going to be a very important piece to the west coast offense and is certain to receive more receptions. I think McCluster has the better chance of the two receivers to be a bigger end zone threat between the twenties as his speed and talent for getting into space is amazing.
While there are many questions I cannot answer right now I will say that the Chiefs should be on your fantasy football radar in 2013. However determining the fantasy draft value of Smith, Bowe, and Charles right now is neither accurate nor necessary. Instead simply keep a close eye on the Chiefs in free agency as they now have a right tackle to replace as well as several other moves that Reid is going to formulate. After the 2013 NFL Draft it will be much easier to predict the Chiefs fantasy football value. Until then simply tweet my post and post your opinion on why Reid will or will not be able to add some more fantasy value to the Chiefs roster in 2013.
The 2012 fantasy football season was the season of the comeback. Peyton Manning, against my own suspicions, made a great run for many fantasy football teams. Adrian Peterson defied every fantasy expert who said to pass on him in your fantasy football draft. Most of all I myself made somewhat of a comeback wining a fantasy football championship after having a sour 2011 season and erasing a loss to a team that had Tim Tebow as a quarterback.
However I am not here to brag but rather share what I have learned with those who are still loyal readers to this blog as well as those who are not. As I wrap up my 2012 fantasy football season and begin planning my 2013 fantasy football season I found something that I thought was true is actually false.
Runningbacks are as overrated in fantasy football as they are in the NFL. I used to deny that idea as the core of my fantasy football philosophy but I have found that the runningback are simply to prone to injury and receive less carries than ever.
One reason runningbacks are so overvalued is that they are only worth a first round pick if they are receiving “bell cow” carries. Only five running backs received over 300 carries last season; including Arian Foster HOU (351 att), Adrian Peterson MIN (348 att), Alfred Morris WAS (335), Doug Martin TB (319 att), and Marshawn Lynch (315). All five had double digit touchdowns and all five also had over 1200 yards on the ground.
However one stat that jumps out at me is the pass to run ratio and Tampa Bay was the only pass heavy team of these five choosing to pass 61% of the time. As much as Adrian Peterson was pounding the rock the Vikings elected to pass 56% of the time however in close games the pass average drops dramatically down to 46%. Houston Texans chose to pass 54% of the play calls followed by Washington who passed 53% of their play calls. Seattle led the most balanced attack in the league opting to pass only 51% of the time.
Now while there were players who had double digit touchdowns in the NFL without the three hundred carry prerequisite but you can count them on one hand. Stevan Ridley NE (290 att), rookie Trent Richardson KC (267 att), and Michael Turner ATL (223 att) all had double digit touchdowns with less than 300 carries. After these three nobody had double digit rushing touchdowns. However Ray Rice (257 att) did have nine touchdowns and one receiving touchdown but that leaves only nine runningbacks that were first round worthy.
While runningbacks thinned nine receivers can match those double digit touchdowns and the receiver position has greater depth at scoring. Tightends slightly receded in value compared to the 2011 season however some fifth round tightends had better value than some first round runningbacks including 2011 star LeSean McCoy. McCoy, Maurice Jones Drew, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Mc Fadden prove for certain runningbacks are not what they once were compared to years past. The position is erratic, almost doomed to injury, and have little reward for the risk.
As I left you all in October I had to take a hiatus from blogging about fantasy football and focus on my own career. I also had family obligations and this left little time to prepare for a valuable accreditation that had me studying instead of blogging. While I am grateful to all of you who have followed my blog in the past I hope that you will return in following my opinions on the NFL and the world of fantasy football. This blog will now strictly be my blog post, my podcast, and the occasional video post. All links will now be posted on the Informers facebook page instead of here.
Two years ago I started this blog and it was all about linking the latest info from the best sources.
As I grew and evolved I changed my format and started posting my own weekly picks which have been fairly accurate.
However I have to many obstacles and not enough time to devote to this blog.
Early in the start of this season it became clear I would not have the time to do the research and work that is required with my busy schedule.
I am sorry to those of you who have followed me and I will still be free to take twitter Q’s.
Thanks to those who hung in there and I will return in April with NFL draft coverage.